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What is the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN)?
U.S. UCAN is a project established to ensure that the advanced application and national networking requirements of community anchor institutions (CAIs)—including K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers, hospitals and public safety organizations—are understood, coordinated and fulfilled. U.S. UCAN will leverage the upgraded Internet2 Network to deliver network services to CAIs, and provide support services to CAI sectors similar to those Internet2 provides to its research and higher education members, but tailored to the specific needs of CAIs.
What is a community anchor institution (CAI)?
Community anchor institutions are community-based organizations including K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers, hospitals and public safety organizations.
Why was the U.S. UCAN project established?
The U.S. UCAN project was established under the auspices of a federal stimulus grant to Internet2 from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Using this stimulus funding, Internet2 is acquiring more than 10,000 miles of fiber optic cable and will build a new nationwide network infrastructure with an unprecedented 8.8 Terabits of capacity using emerging 100 Gigabit per second technology. By expanding the infrastructure so significantly, the network will enable U.S. UCAN to offer its services to all community anchor institutions nationwide.
What are the goals of U.S. UCAN?
In the past, the connectivity needs of research institutions have been met by non-profit research and education (R&E) networks such as Internet2. R&E networks played a central role in the development and growth of the Internet itself through projects like ARPANET and later NSFNET. Today, R&E networks provide high-speed connectivity to 66,000 community anchor institutions. U.S. UCAN intends to expand this model to incorporate all community anchor institutions.
Specifically, under this model, the networks are owned, controlled and directed by their users. The networks deliver advanced services tailored to the specific needs of CAI users, and are built with very high capacity so that they are uncongested and able to handle advanced applications without any interruptions to end users. These networks operate with transparency, providing live operational data on the activity of the network. These networks are built with leading-edge network technologies like IPv6 and multicast, which makes them ready to support advanced applications that exist today as well as emerging future applications.
U.S. UCAN services will be priced to encourage new use and new applications.
U.S. UCAN will also help to facilitate an active "community of users" as important as the network itself—self help, virtual help desk, experiments, collaboration, problem solving, training, etc.—to help users become acquainted with new applications and learn how to better utilize them and the network for optimal results.
How do Internet2, the Internet2 Network and U.S. UCAN relate?
The U.S. UCAN project was officially created in January, 2011. The U.S. UCAN project will leverage the Internet2 Network infrastructure to provide services to community anchor institutions, including K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers, hospitals and public safety organizations.
Is U.S. UCAN the same thing as the Internet2 upgrade project funded through the federal stimulus program?
The Internet2 Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant proposal was originally titled "U.S. UCAN" when it was submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Since receiving the award, the two projects described in the grant application—building the infrastructure and creating the supporting organization—are being managed separately as an infrastructure project to upgrade the Internet2 Network and a new startup organizational effort called U.S. UCAN.
The BTOP grant provides funding for infrastructure only. There is no funding for the cost of operating the infrastructure. The funding was provided to Internet2 and is being used to acquire fiber and upgrade the Internet2 Network to an 8.8 Terabit per second national network. The U.S. UCAN project has been established in parallel to focus on bringing together the diverse voices of community anchor institutions beyond Internet2's traditional research university members. Startup costs for U.S. UCAN are being provided by Internet2, with support from MCNC, Texas A&M University and possibly other institutions. U.S. UCAN will ultimately offer services using the common infrastructure operated by Internet2.
What is the U.S. UCAN business model and what services will U.S. UCAN offer?
The Internet2 Board of Trustees via its BTOP Special Committee has established a Task Force on Community Anchor Network Economic Models. The Task Force, comprised of representatives from community anchor institution sectors as well as regional and state R&E networks, and led by Mike Roberts, is responsible for developing a sustainable economic and business model for the U.S. UCAN project. This model will help determine the fee structure for the project. Once in place, the business model will ensure that U.S. UCAN is a self-sustaining, self-funded project, and will help determine the potential service model. The Task Force is expected to complete its work by the fall of 2011.
How much funding did the U.S. UCAN project receive from BTOP?
None. The BTOP grant provides funding for infrastructure only. The funding was provided to Internet2 and is being used to upgrade the Internet2 Network. U.S. UCAN will benefit from the grant by providing network services to community anchor institutions using the upgraded Internet2 Network.
How is the U.S. UCAN project funded?
The Internet2 BTOP project is a capital project that only funds the acquisition and installation of network assets. As is the case with all of the BTOP awards, no funds to operate and maintain those assets were provided. The Internet2 Board of Trustees via its BTOP Special Committee has established a Task Force on Community Anchor Network Economic Models. The Task Force, comprised of representatives from community anchor institution sectors as well as regional and state R&E networks, and led by Mike Roberts, is responsible for recommending sustainable economic and business models for the U.S. UCAN project. These recommendations will inform a Board of Trustees discussion about the fee structure for the project to support its funding. Those recommendations are expected this summer.
In the interim, Internet2, with assistance from MCNC, Texas A&M University and other community collaborators, is providing startup support.
What will be the governance structure for U.S. UCAN?
The governance structure for U.S. UCAN has not been developed. The University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development's Governance and Nominations Committee is reviewing options for U.S. UCAN as one venue in which governance may be developed. The UCAID Board of Trustees is also reviewing membership and governance for Internet2, InCommon and U.S. UCAN, and will make any final determination about future governance models.
How will U.S. UCAN connect community anchor institutions?
U.S. UCAN will leverage the Internet2 Network infrastructure to deliver its services. Internet2 will continue to partner with regional and state networks to deliver its services to end institutions. This may include the addition of emerging regional and state network partners to reach community anchor institutions not currently served by Internet2. Internet2 has no plans to directly connect individual institutions.